You will not experience this life without conflict. The sources of conflict are far too many to prevent them from coming up. When you take the time to break it down, every conflict stems from one or more of the following: money, ego, power, and boredom.
Take a moment to consider how easily fights take place over the toilet seat (up or down) or how the toothpaste is rolled neatly or simply squeezed from the middle. Couples have divorced over such issues.
Some will run to work to avoid these conflicts only to be dealing with conflict there with a more political bent over differing goals and expectations. There is no escape, even at play. I once saw a man arrested for threatening an umpire at a little league game.
While there are reasons to try to avoid conflict, there are more reasons to cause us to wade into the uncomfortable waters of conflict. Among these is the pain of divorce, lack of productivity at work, and a myriad of health issues; both physical and mental.
Lesson one is that we must take time to engage in conflict. The cost of not doing so is simply too high. Beyond that, once you decide that you have the heroic courage to step into conflict the following lessons will help you immensely.
5 things I learned from overcoming conflict
There are two extremes with conflict and a range in between
The debate rages over how we get to be the way we are in reference to conflict. Is there something genetic that makes us choose or is there something that we are trained in that make us like we are.
The reality is that in different situations where you land on the scale might be different so you realize it doesn’t matter if you were born this way or if you were trained The extreme on one side would be the kill or destroy side.
If you live on this side of the conflict you are willing to do whatever it takes to win. This can include murder, destruction and devastation. This is pretty important if you are a soldier in conflict or a police officer doing what they can to bring the peace.
However, in most situations, this side of things will only get you in trouble and cost you lots of money. Abusers that make the news tend to come out on this side of things. They are known to break things, kick the dog and hit and maim people around them.
Destruction is the focus and the thought is that if I destroy the other side there will be peace. Now on the other extreme, we have those who deliberately strive to escape the possibility of conflict.
These men and women will make peace at all costs. Folks living on this end of the spectrum will ultimately live in denial or in real extreme cases commit suicide. Neither extreme is healthy and regardless of where you start. (Often couples will come from opposite extremes.) We need to move toward a healthy medium where we are having discussion and negotiation. Sometimes the issues are complex enough that it is wise to bring in a mediator.
Recognizing our starting places is an important first step in the process of bringing resolution to conflict. Shortly after that working toward that center is required if there is to be any hope. The understanding of the different bents toward conflict has been a great lesson in how to bring healing.
Conflict happens for a reason
Ultimately the goal is peace regardless of what technique is being used. In order to engage in healthy conflict, it is critical that we know ourselves and the person that we are about to engage in conflict with. What makes them tick?
What is important to them? Some men and women desperately want respect, others just want to be heard, and others are just plain hungry. Before you engage in conflict sit down and perform a self-examination.
I’m not talking about anything medical unless your conflict has already turned to violence. (In which case move to a safe place before continuing to read this blog.) Take time to think about who you are and what matters most to you. Do you engage in conflict when you are tired, stressed or only when you feel disrespected?
Knowing yourself and taking time to examine who you are on a regular basis can often end a conflict before it even gets started. Also, recognize that anger is a secondary emotion. I know that when I start to get angry and move toward one the extremes of conflict it most typically is coming from frustration.
I can then deal with the frustration and the anger dissipates. Take time to investigate what the conflict is really all about for yourself.
Conflicts tend to not be what you think they are about
There was a season where I was working to be superman. I worked full time, volunteered heavily with my church and thought that I would make sure that all laundry was done. My thinking was that it would be a great help to my wife and she would be happy.
Unfortunately, after a short season of this she was not happy and in fact, was fairly angry with me. I was shocked. How could she be mad at me? I am doing dishes, cleaning the house and doing laundry. What more could I do?
My only explanation that my mind could come up with was that she was jealous of my incredible time management skills. That had to be it. I had my life so ordered that I could do it all and did not seem to need her.
Wow, ok she thinks that I don’t need her. However, I was wrong. The reality is that I had ruined one of her favorite dresses. I thought I was superman but apparently I sorted poorly on at least one occasion. She was actually angry over the ruined dress that I knew nothing about until the conflict came to day two. All of day one we were fighting bitterly over totally different topics. Neither of us was listening to the other and the conflict only got worse.
But once we slowed down enough to understand the other person’s side of the fight I was able to apologize for the ruined dress. She was able to know that I can slow down and let her take care of the house so nothing else gets ruined in my rush.
This is a key step in the process of resolving conflict by the way. We must stop long enough to listen to discover what it is really all about. One of the things that can make this difficult is that people are not always honest. Wars are fought for multitudes of reasons, most of the time we are not told the real reasons.
The conflict cannot end until both sides can live with the resolution
While there may be many short truces throughout the process. We must be steadfast in our goal to push toward resolution. There is never going to be a perfect time to engage in the conflict so you need to quit waiting. Get started and dig in for the long haul.
Choose the relationship over rules and work to overcome your own ego. Conflict must be pushed until all issues are aired and resolved or the conflict will flare up later with a different and usually more deadly turn.
The results are amazing IF you will work through it
I still remember some of the first fights that I had with my wife. We had zero fights while we were dating and I was totally caught off guard when I realized how quickly a minor issue had turned into World War III. My instinct was to run and never look back.
My thoughts were around the idea that if this was marriage; I will stick with simply dating for the rest of my life.
But we stuck through it and we have had much worse fights since that day. But we are determined to never give up. Our relationship has blossomed and she is my biggest fan and supporter. A large part of my success is because of her. I never would be where I am today if I would have given up.
Breath in deep, steel yourself and engage in conflict. It you need help here is a link that can help you through the process of conflict resolution whether it is at home, work or play. Society wins when men and women learn how to fight correctly.